Australian Reptile Park’s koala breeding program is continuing to boom with the help of adopting mother Maddy, a resident koala who gave birth to one and has adopted another close to the same age, seeing Maddy raise twins.
“Koalas don’t actually have twins,” said Australian Reptile Park General Manager, Tim Faulkner. “Maddy has taken on the role of koala wet-nurse for the two baby joeys.
“Maddy had one baby girl (Penny), and when the other koala joeys (Mikey the larger Joey) mothers milk dried up, it jumped across to Maddy who has welcomed the youngling with open arms.”
Guests to Australian Reptile Park can visit Maddy and her babies in the koala enclosure. She is often seen sleeping with babies cuddled in her arms or climbing the eucalyptus trees with both babies on her back. The Australian Reptile Park has six koala joeys around the same age after its most successful koala breeding season ever.
Both joeys Mikey and Penny are at the weaning stage, says Tim, who added that this arrangement is unique to koalas living in captivity. “In the wild a joey, once weaned from its mum, couldn’t simply ‘jump on another’. Nor would a female accepts another female’s joey,” he explained.
Last year other resident koala Jill, made headlines at Australian Reptile Park when she gave birth and adopted two other babies taking on triplets.
The joeys are welcome news and ambassadors for their species. Koalas in NSW have plummeted by a third in the past 20 years. According to Tim Faulkner, they are on a current trajectory to be extinct by 2050 in NSW if more is not done.
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